TLP 303: Parenting Zombie Terrorists
What’s scarier than a Zombie Terrorist? One that lives in your home! Join AMBrewster as he helps Christian parents put their parenting into God’s perspective and find true success when parenting troublesome children.
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Listen to the following episodes on Apple Podcasts by clicking the titles.
“Parenting a Terrorist” (episode 37)
“Fearless Parenting” (episode 40)
“Practical Anti-Terrorism” (episode 44)
“Terrorist Parents” (episode 217)
“Parenting a Zombie” series (starts in episode 200)
“No Greater Joy | what you need for joy in your parenting” (Episode 121)
“Parenting Angry Children” series (starts in episode 287)
"Children and Shame” series (starts in episode 60)
“What Is Successful Parenting?” (episode 87)
“Your Parenting is Not in Vain” (episode 224)
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We’ve talked quite a bit about terrorist kids and zombie kids.
There are 4 episodes and 1 series linked in the description that deal explicitly with these ideas. And there are plenty of others where we mention them or discuss ideas like how to have peace even if your children are antagonistic toward you.
Episode 121 is a good example. It’s the second of a two-part episode called “No Greater Joy | what you need for joy in your parenting,” and it deals specifically with how you can have joy even if your kids aren’t living for God.
And we talk about this so much because it’s the genesis of the TLP podcast. If you remember, I work at Victory Academy for Boys. My daily work is to parent at-risk, troubled, rebellious teen boys.
And many of you are doing the same.
In fact, recently my family and I were on a hayride with a number of fine folks, but there was one family there that stood out from the rest. It was comprised of a Grandmother, Mother, and a son. This child had to be about two or three, and — let me put it this way — I would gladly take a room full of rebellious teens over this one brat.
Now, that may sound like harsh language, but this kid’s mom and grandmother would try to get him to do the simplest things and he would scream, “NO!” In the nastiest way possible. Of course, he was quite the charmer when he was getting his way, but neither his mother, his grandmother, nor their combined forces were going to sway him.
Now, I want to be fair. The child was being wicked and practically ruining the hayride for the rest of us, and though I believe with all my heart this kid needed serious consequences for his actions, it was the mother and grandmother who needed a spanking.
To call them enablers would be too kind a word. They didn’t merely allow him to act the way he did, they were the cause of his behavior. They encouraged it by their parenting.
Now, it may seem that I’m being overly harsh, but I want you to know that I prayed for the family the entire hayride. I pitted them. I imagined any number of things I might be able to say or do, and none of them would have been valuable. I did the best thing for them I could. I prayed.
I say all of this to say that this podcast was created because sin makes us scary to those around us. It doesn’t matter how old you are. It doesn’t matter how old your kids are.
Sin is scary.
I believe that mother and that grandmother had no idea what to do. To even suggest one tiny course of action that would have made all the sense in the world to you would likely have left them completely overwhelmed as to how to accomplish it. And then when they imagined the response they’d get from the child . . . no doubt they’d be petrified to even try.
I don’t want that for you. I don’t want that for anyone.
TeamTLP and I desire more than anything that God would work through this podcast to help you reform your terrorists and give new-life to your zombies.
Anyway, that was a long lead-in.
I want to thank Johanna and Taylor for making this episode possible. They are two Patrons who sacrificially give so that TLP can open God’s Word to help families who have terrorists and zombies.
Thank you very much, ladies.
You too can support TLP. You can click on the “5 Ways to Support TLP" link in the description of this episode to learn how to give a one-time gift or sign up to give monthly. We utilize PayPal so it’s safe and easy to invest your year-end giving.
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Lastly, if you would like to see the episode notes and transcript from today’s show, you can find that link in the description as well.
Okay, so let’s take a little time to talk about parenting zombie terrorists.
Way back in episode 37 we were reminded that the definition of terrorism is “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.”
Whether it’s a three year old screaming “No!” or a teenager threatening to kill herself, those are terror tactics.
They want to scare you into changing your mind.
And then in our “Parenting a Zombie” series we defined a zombie this way:
And we contrasted that description with the biblical concept of a fool and found:
Now, personally, I see huge overlap here. I would say that, biblically speaking, Terrorist Children always fall into the Zombie category. They have to. Every time any of us sin, we’re living like Zombies. That’s Zombie behavior.
But a Zombie is not always a Terrorist, at least not intentionally.
If you haven’t heard our “Parenting a Zombie” series, I highly recommend it. I was able to present that information to a group of teenagers at Camp Chetek in Western Wisconsin. One of the young ladies from the retreat wrote me and said, “I just wanted to thank you for your messages. The Lord always uses you to get straight through to my heart, and I really appreciate it! I really saw myself for who I am. I believe that God worked in a lot of hearts!”
This particular young lady is very sweet and, from what I know about her, loves the Lord and works hard to please Him. And yet, she saw the zombie tendencies in her own heart.
I know they’re there in mine, and I can say they’re in your life and your children’s lives simply by virtue of the fact that we’re all sinners.
So, check out that series. It helped me a lot as I look at my own life, the life of my family members, and the lives of the boys in my house.
If we don’t know how to identify Zombie behavior and parent it, it’s going to be impossible for us to glorify God to the extent that we should.
So, a terrorist is always a zombie, but a zombie isn’t always a terrorist.
Let’s take some time to discuss Parenting a Zombie Terrorist.
Back in episode 37 we defined Christian Anti-Terrorism with two points:
Now, if you remember the hayride anecdote with which I started, you’ll be able to see how this mother and grandmother not only feared the two year old, they also negotiated with him.
The Zombie Terrorist won. He screamed loud enough to get mom and grandma off his back. He demanded a helicopter to Cuba and a pizza, and that’s what he got.
And for the parent of a Zombie Terrorist, the negotiation and the fear go hand in hand. You would never negotiate if you weren’t afraid of what would happen if you didn’t.
And I want you to know that I have been in your shoes. I may have even been in shoes that were too big for you to fill.
And some of you have experienced things with your kids I have never experienced. But, my point is that I’m not sitting back making claims about how you should approach parenting with my squeaky clean nose in the air.
I have negotiated with my fair-share of terrorists. I have parented out of fear.
But, I’ve also been convicted about my behavior.
Proverbs 29:25 tells me that if I’m trusting in the Lord, I will be safe. I know that if I keep my mind anchored on God, He will keep me in perfect peace.
I also know that Acts 5:29 warns us that we must obey God rather than men. Peter said those words to a group of men who — we’re told in verse 33 — were enraged by what he said and wanted to kill him.
So, please, if you’re being tempted to justify your fear or the times you negotiate with your kids or ignore their behavior, please acknowledge that God’s Truth condemns that and provides the information and power necessary to respond in a Christ-honoring way.
Zombies by themselves are scary. They’re brain dead, so — in a way — they’re not scary on purpose. But that doesn’t change how scary they are.
But when the Zombie starts actively and aggressively and deliberately using terror tactics to manipulate, that’s the stuff of our worst nightmares.
So, here are some practical ways you can set yourself up for success when parenting kids like this.
1. Realize that God has not called you to change your kids; He’s called you to be an Ambassador of His Truth.
My mom used to ask, “What’s the worst they can do? Kill you?” Jesus said the same in Matthew 10:28, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Don’t fear your kids. What’s the worst they can do? However, you need to fear God. He’s the Almighty, Creator God. His will is the only will. To defy God in order to assuage your kids will never work in your favor, and it will only set your kids up for more failure.
2. Create a new paradigm during a time of peace.
Your Zombie Terrorist is smart and manipulative. It might not work well for you to try a new tactic in the middle of a confrontation. They may likely take your new behavior and try to use it against you.
However, if you can establish Truth and rhythm during times of little to no confrontation, you can use those as touchstones when confrontation comes.
For example, I was just listening to Joe Martin’s newest episode on Real Men Connect and the guest was discussing spanking. The guest did a really good job of laying out a biblical paradigm for — what he called — the ritual of Christ-honoring spanking.
And one of the first and most important steps is setting up the correct expectations. He taught his kids the biblical importance of obedience. When they would sin, he would guide them through a biblical understanding of the fact that they disobeyed, that disobedience is a sin, that God says one of the best ways to discipline the heart of a child is to give them Christ-honoring consequences, and that if daddy didn’t spank them, daddy would be disobeying God himself!
All of this was taught beforehand. And then it was used in the confrontation to guide the child to what they already knew about God.
Your child who’s not currently in trouble will find it pretty easy to agree with the biblical data concerning the role of consequences in their lives. But try to convince them of that when they’re rolling around in their sin . . . good luck.
So, if you need to stop negotiating with your terrorist, you need to have that talk before their next terror attack.
Explain to them God’s expectations for obedience and discipline. Explain your own disobedience to God by not following His will but instead catering to your child. Apologize to your children for not loving God and them enough to do the hard thing.
Then explain to your child what you hope to do the next time there’s an infraction. Step them through the script — if I can put it that way — of how you’re going to address the sinful behavior and how you’re going to consequence it, and what you’re going to have to do in addition to that if the child presumes to manipulate you with terror.
If you teach this to your child from the Bible in a kind, loving way, it will be hard for them to disagree with your plan. They may not like it, but then their problem is with God, not you.
3. Stick to the plan.
You terrorist child is going to know — because you already told them — that breaking curfew would result in a loss of privileges for a certain period of time. He or she is not going to want to lose those privileges, so their natural temptation is going to be to defy you when you try to instigate those consequences.
And they’ll be emboldened to a large degree because they’ve likely gotten away with it over and over. They’ll either try to blow you out of the water with their impassioned slander that you’re a terrible parent. They may run right past you to their room, screaming and crying all the way. They may threaten to break something or kill themselves.
They may even quietly take the correction, but then expect to manipulate you out of actually going through with the consequences the next time they want to go out with friends. That’s when they’ll launch into their attack.
Either way, you must stick to the plan.
And this is where wise parents garner support. I mentioned this a ton of times in the “Parenting Angry Children” series. If you child is slanderous or malicious, you will need to fall back on your Parenting Community to support you in this. You may need a friend to come over to the house in order to have this discussion with your teen.
You’re going to need your spouse’s participation (assuming they’re on the same page with you), you’re going to need your pastor’s help.
You’re dealing with a Zombie Terrorist. I don’t care what movie you watch; if you’re facing the zombie or the terrorist by yourself . . . you’re going to lose. Unless, of course, you’re Batman. But, you know what, he needs help to. Hence, the Justice League.
Anyway, you must remember that your job is to teach and reprove using God’s Truth. The best course of action is to over teach before there’s an issue, so that when it comes time to reprove, you won’t have to focus too much on the teaching element, but on the actual reproof. And you’re going to have to stick to the plan.
Spend as much time as you need to in prayer, add to your parenting Bible, surround yourself with mature believers who can help you glorify God in the process — please notice that I didn’t say, “who can help you control your kid.” Your Parenting Community is there to help you parent to the glory of God, not guarantee that your kid will obey. They’re there for you.
And 4. Trust God to deal with your child as you submit to His plan for your parenting.
The main reason we struggle trusting God with our kids is that we’re not trusting Him at all. He wants us to not fear our kids. He wants us to parent them in Truth and Love, but we are afraid of them and we let them live in a way that displeases Him with no consequences.
If you can’t trust God to guide your parenting, how on earth are you going to trust Him with the product of your parenting.
Not only do you not trust God with your kids because you’re not trusting Him with your parenting, I think we also don’t trust that our kids will turn out well because deep inside we know we’re not parenting as well as we should.
It’s like a solider listening to his fellow soldiers get mown down by machine gun fire while he’s hiding in his foxhole, refusing to engage the enemy. On one side he’s petrified that he too will die, but on the other he’s ashamed of himself for being a coward while his brothers-in-arms are laying down their lives to advance the army.
And — if he survives — he will likely live with the guilt of wondering if things would have been different if he had just done his part.
The same thing is true for us as parents. God gave us a conscience, and the more of His light to which we’ve been exposed, the easier it is for us to experience good shame when we know we’re not parenting as God has called and commanded us.
But, if you are consistently, intentionally, and premeditatedly parenting your children for God, then you know that you are being a successful parent who’s parenting is not in vain.
You’re doing what God called you to do. He did not call you to change your kids, He called you to change you.
Trust Him to do the same work in your kids that He’s done in you.
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Of course, please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets, and join us next time as we discuss “The Value of Horror Movies.”
Already some of you completely disagree with that statement. I’m not saying they do have value, the episode is gong to be about working through what the Bible says on the subject and determining what value — if any — they have in our homes.
God wants you to be able to discern what parts of our culture have value, and Truth.Love.Parent. wants to help you discern that using the Scriptures.
So, let’s do that together next time.
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